Northern Ireland

Munich shootings: People from NI describe panic and fear in wake of shootings

At least one person has been killed - unconfirmed reports say the toll may be higher Image copyright TIMM KRAEFT
Image caption At least one person has been killed - unconfirmed reports say the toll may be higher

People from Northern Ireland have spoken of "panic and chaos" in Munich in the wake of a terrorist attack at a shopping centre in the German city.

Nine people died in the attack at the Olympia shopping complex in the north-western Moosach district.

Northern Ireland holidaymaker Jerome Burns described the sense of fear in the wake of the shootings.

Mr Burns, who is in Munich with his wife, was at a railway station when news of the shootings broke.

"We were buying train tickets when suddenly there was a massive alert," he said.


"People were running all over the place. We were all bundled out, down a back door into the bottom of the railway station, where we were kept for about half an hour.

Image copyright AP
Image caption People were seen hurrying from the shopping centre

"The station, at that stage, was closed - all the public transport was closed - and we were told to get back to our hotel as quickly as we could."

Mr Burns said that because there were so few English speakers among the crowd he was with, the situation "all the more frightening".

"We didn't really understand what was being said.

"It was really manic coming out of the station, police everywhere, stations absolutely evacuated, ambulances and lights all over the place, total panic."

Speaking from his hotel, Mr Burns said he and the other guests were "in a state of shock".

"People are just staying in the hotel, watching the news on TV."

Image caption The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Irish Department of Foreign Affairs have issued advice about the incident

Omagh woman Sinead Lavallee, who lives in the south east of Munich, told the BBC the atmosphere in the city is tense.

"The city has been shut down. There are no trams, no U-Bahns [trams], no underground, all the shops have been closed, people have been told to avoid public places and stay indoors," she said.

"I would say that it's a very confusing situation at the moment, because they haven't been able to catch the attacker or attackers.

"People have been told to avoid public places and stay indoors.

"I wouldn't say it's panic, but people are afraid, especially those in the city centre."

Image caption The security operation continues in the search for the perpetrators

Meanwhile, a barman at an Irish pub in Munich spoke of a growing sense of panic as news broke of shots fired at a local shopping centre.

Sam Pound, who works at the nearby Kilians Irish bar talked of confusion and fear in the wake of the news.

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Media captionMunich shootings: Barman in Irish pub describes panic and fear

Initially, he said he did not feel staff and customers were in any danger.

"We are safe for the moment. There are no problems that we can see at the moment.

"It did shock us when we heard about it and what really shocked us was a report [an attack] maybe 400 metres away from us, but we're not sure if that was speculation."

Mr Pound said the lack of information and conflicting reports online was adding to the sense of uncertainty.

"We're getting information from BBC News and local Twitter feeds from German authorities, but it's hard to know what's realistic and what's not," he said.

"We're in a cellar, which is away from the main street, but when you go out, you can hear a lot of sirens and helicopters."

As Mr Pound was speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme, another member of staff suddenly began shouting at the bar's customers and staff, advising them to move to a safe place.

"Something's going on right now - we've just been told to get behind the doors," he said.

"One of my colleagues is telling me 'Sam, get inside, behind the doors'... I'm actually taking cover behind a door.

"I can't see inside the bar because everyone has gone away. I'm going to go now as I feel my safety is under threat."

Speaking after the broadcast, Mr Pound's colleague confirmed that he all staff and customers at the bar were safe.

Foreign Office Advice

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice on Germany in the wake of the attack.

It is urging British people to avoid the area around the shopping centre and to follow the advice of the authorities in Munich.

The Republic of Ireland's minister for foreign affairs and trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, said he was "horrified by the violence and loss of life".

"My Department is monitoring the situation and is in close contact with the Irish Embassy in Berlin," he said.

"At this time we are not aware of any Irish citizens having being caught up in this evening's incident.

"Anyone with concerns for Irish citizens in the area should contact my Department at 01-408 2000."

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